A new inventory of natural gas and oil on 99 million acres of federal land in 11 major geographic areas of the United States found that only 13% of the gas and 3% of the oil resources are recoverable under standard leasing terms, such as minimizing impacts on environmental and cultural resources.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which was required to conduct the inventory by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, said there is about 187 Tcf of natural gas and 21 billion bbl of oil on the federal acreage, which represents about 76% of total onshore federal oil and gas resources. However, only about 25 Tcf of gas and 743 MMbbl of oil are available under standard leasing terms.
A total of about 111.5 Tcf of gas and 9.7 billion bbl of oil is accessible with restrictions beyond standard stipulations, such as no-surface-occupancy requirements or limitations on the time of year that exploration and drilling can take place in order to protect wildlife. The study found that in the inventory areas 51% of the oil and 27% of the gas are currently closed to leasing.
BLM's new inventory updates and expands a previous inventory completed in 2003. The 11 areas inventoried in this new study include six additional oil and gas basins in Alaska (National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Area 1002), the Rocky Mountain West (Wyoming Thrust Belt in Wyoming, Utah and Idaho, Denver Basin) and the East (Florida Peninsula, Black Warrior Basin and Appalachian Basin), in addition to the five Rocky Mountain region basins studied in 2003 (Paradox/San Juan, Uinta-Piceance, Greater Green River, Powder River and Montana Thrust Belt).
"This is a more complete and accurate picture than our previous inventory," said BLM Director Kathleen Clarke. "This kind of nationwide comparison will help us plan for domestic oil and gas development on public lands in a way that protects the environment. Secure and affordable domestic energy, and healthy natural landscapes, are important for the quality of life in this country."
The new report was prepared under the direction of the BLM. Co-authors, contributors and reviewers include the U.S. Geological Survey, the USDA-Forest Service, and the Department of Energy and its Energy Information Administration. The official title is Scientific Inventory of Onshore Federal Lands' Oil and Gas Resources and the Extent and Nature of Restrictions or Impediments to Their Development – Phase II Cumulative Inventory. The report and a related fact sheet are available online at www.blm.gov/.
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